Settling the Affairs of an Atrocious Noble - 12.5
Settling the Affairs of an Atrocious Noble
12.5 – Free Talk ※
Something was strange with the lord. It had become so clear to me when he released Elmer Kische from Prison Two. No, I thought that something had changed immediately after he fell down the stairs.
That time when one of my subordinates reported that the lord had fallen down the stairs, I knew my fate was finally coming to an end. We found out later on that the accident was actually done intentionally, but either way, I felt that as the head knight of the guards, I must bear the responsibility for failing to protect the lord from harm.
I had resolved myself to take at least one of his arms and retaliate before I die, but the lord who woke up didn’t even punish the guards who were on duty, let alone myself.
I felt suspicious of him at that time, though I figured it might’ve just been one of his whims, but… the strangeness of his behavior wasn’t limited to that case.
In terms of what I could see, the lord no longer smiled. To be precise, it wasn’t that he didn’t smile anymore; he usually had a relaxed face more often than not, but… It might be safe to say that he stopped laughing ‘whenever he commits atrocities’. Until now, the lord used to laugh loudly whenever he hurt someone. That was what made him so blissful and he couldn’t help but truly enjoy it. I thought that was the image which made him the ‘Nation’s Deadliest Poison’.
But recently, he didn’t laugh anymore whenever he committed atrocities.
For instance, Carlos Bureau… my subordinate, and a former guard, who tried to kill the lord with preparation to throw his life away. If it were the previous lord, he would’ve toyed with whoever attempted the assassination. It wouldn’t be strange if he had whipped Carlos to death while roaring with laughter right on the spot. And yet, at that time, all kinds of expressions were missing from the lord. The words that came out of his mouth were unmistakably evil, yet they were somehow theatrical… In the end, he didn’t even have to deal with him directly and accepted the death of my subordinate with a blank expression. But I guess that was also creepy in its own way.
If I had to describe it in ambiguous terms, it would be the air he wore. The previous lord wouldn’t let anyone get close to him, so he always had a certain air around him telling us not to dare touch him. Was it the amount of integrity that comes in with being in control…? But that had already faded somehow.
Suddenly, I saw a gap. It was the state, not the pose, of him lost in thoughts. If you called out to him while he was in a daze, he would show a surprised face. If I were stupid enough to make a mistake, he would attack me about it relentlessly (Come to think of it, I felt like he was smiling at that time. It was, however, a forced smile.), but I failed to notice it at that time because I thought it might’ve been just my imagination.
But the one thing that certainly felt out of place was the time he went to take a walk in the garden. I found it unusual for the lord to take a walk at first and I wasn’t sure if he’d find some faults in it and execute the gardener. But in fact, he really just walked around aimlessly. He looked terribly tired as if he were thinking about something. Even when he was pricked by the thorns of a rose, rather than being unreasonably agitated, he had this look as though he had been wounded inside his heart. It was strange to think such things about the lord, but he looked lonely, like a child left behind by his mother. He seemed to have found it strange why his blood was red, so when I told him without thinking that it was natural since he’s human, I remembered him smiling sarcastically. I wondered what it meant.
It weighed on my mind and I had been secretly observing the lord, who had been making frequent walks in the garden since then, but I still hadn’t gotten an answer.
Still, something was definitely wrong with him. It has been a long period of time since his unreasonable executions had abruptly stopped.
Perhaps, something had changed the lord? The humanity that had been trapped within him must have spilled out the moment he fell down the stairs.
I had no definite proof, but that kind of idea was growing in me.
Seeing the blood that clung on the sword in my grip, I scorned myself.
—What on earth was I expecting?
Assuming the lord had awakened his humanity. Even if he were drawing closer to a human. It wouldn’t erase his sins from the past… And even now, he still ended up committing an atrocity. He implicitly threw me a great amount of threats and ordered me to kill Lord Sieghardt, knowing that it was the way I’d suffer the most.
I shook the blood off my sword and sheathed it. I went easy on him, but I wonder if they’re safe? I heard that the Princess of Mokyr was skilled in a variety of physical abilities in addition to her martial arts, but they wouldn’t drown, would they? Though I was just ordered to do so, I’m still the one who created this situation. Do not forget. The disgrace just now, and the sins of the past, all of it. I’m not qualified to worry about Lord Sieghardt and the others, but… in the unlikely event that something were to happen. At that time, I will end my life, taking the lord along with me.
“…It seems that there aren’t any deaths. If so, proceed to treat the injured. Take them to the quarters when you’re done. And, don’t go near the estate.”
“I’ll deal with our lord somehow. But you must rest yourselves first. …You all did well.”
I wouldn’t hold a grudge if the soldiers here had turned a blind eye to Lord Sieghardt. They were people who had only fulfilled their duty to protect their lives and their families.
In order to protect them, I cut Lord Sieghardt down. I excused myself, saying it was for the greater good… but now I had to do my part, whether it was detestable or disgraceful.
After giving some instructions to the remaining soldiers, I rode my horse in pursuit of the lord.
When I arrived at the mansion, I furrowed my brows at the unusual sight. A single, luxurious carriage was parked at the corner of the gate.
…Is this the reason why the lord left in a hurry?
I’m glad that I came after him right away. I may perhaps get some valuable information.
With that thought in mind, I entered the mansion through the front door in a hurry, but… I almost clicked my tongue when I saw the man wearing glasses greet me.
“You’re finally back, Craig Bauer. The lord has already returned. You seem to be riding an awfully dull horse.”
Karl Anker. The butler of this estate who was valued by the lord. He never talked about anything unnecessary in front of the lord and did his assigned duties indifferently, and yet, for some reason he was hard on me.
Perhaps he was glaringly aware that I intend to eventually turn against the lord. With his attitude and behavior combined, I saw him as someone close to the side of evil. …Well, he didn’t look like a devotee either.
“…The lord said he would return by himself.”
“So, you just let him go as you were told? What were you going to do if something happened on his way home? His Majesty the King’s wrath cannot be sustained with just your life alone.”
‘Ha…’ he raised his head and looked down on me, as if he were mocking me.
I didn’t like his provocative attitude and glared back at him.
“You should speak for yourself.”
Normally, the butler would always be waiting in a room next to the lord so that he could come immediately once summoned. Yet, he greeted me in a place like this even though the lord wasn’t here. I wondered what was going on.
“You and I are in different positions. It is my duty to fulfill the lord’s life above all else. Your duty is to protect the lord no matter what, isn’t it?”
Even if the lord himself kills you as a result. His gray eyes spoke of it so coldly.
…It was useless. There was no point in talking with him any further. I shook my head and walked past Karl.
“Where are you going?”
“To our lord, of course.”
“The lord is currently entertaining his guest. We’ve been asked to leave them alone until he summons us.”
…Just as I had suspected. If that was the case, then I had all the more reason to go.
I turned towards Karl, who was staring coldly at me, and scoffed at him in return. This way of ridiculing was something I learned ever since I started working at this estate.
“You just contradicted what you just said earlier, Karl Anker. It is my duty to protect the lord ‘no matter what’.”
The competent butler flinched his eyebrows a bit, which was unusual.
“…Do as you please. I already stopped you. The punishment will be for you alone.”
I was certain that they were in the reception room, but when I got there, the place was empty. To be precise, the servants who had made preparations for the guest were on standby, but the guest and the lord himself couldn’t be found. …Where did they go?
I asked the servants who were standing by in the reception room. They were a bit reluctant to tell me, but when I emphasized that I needed to know as the head knight of the guards, they nervously replied that both of them seemed to have headed to the lord’s room.
His room…? That’s even more suspicious. I guess they have something to talk about that they didn’t want others to hear. If they secluded themselves in his room, it’d be difficult to eavesdrop on their conversation…
But contrary to my expectations, the door of the lord’s room was slightly opened when I arrived. It seemed like an obvious trap to lure me in. There might even be a chance that my eyes would be crushed as soon as I look inside.
I hesitated for a moment. Nothing could be obtained in this country without taking risks. I approached the door, trying to suppress the sound of my footsteps and my presence as much as possible and listened carefully.
I thought I heard a strange voice, rather than the wiles of the villains. However, I couldn’t pick up much sound from here. I had some doubts about it, but then, I decided to peek inside through the doorway.
Then, my eyes widened at the sight that came into view.
In there was the scene of the lord… pleasuring himself.
He was seated on the floor, leaning against the bed with its black sheets hanging down and moved his hand between his legs, letting out sweet breaths. The room was filled with obscene air, mixed with the messy sound of liquid, typical to amorous affairs, and the occasional fleeting voice escaping from the lord.
It was clearly a bizarre sight. I could say it was repulsive. After all, the lord had just directed the battle on the Pieira River. He ordered me to dispose of Lord Sieghardt and watched me carry it out with his own eyes. Right after that, there was a change in his behavior, so if he returned to the estate to do this, then… it would mean that he was pleasuring himself with the excitement over the atrocity he had caused.
It was an atypical behavior of a monster that no one could understand.
That was what I should’ve been thinking inside my head, and yet… for some reason, I couldn’t take my eyes off the scene beyond the door.
Although the lord was pleasuring himself, he seemed to be suffering in some place. He struggled in vain, as if something was hindering him, as if he were drowning. He did so for a while, and then he writhed around in pain, letting his unsettled gaze wander… until he suddenly stopped and looked at a certain point.
Beyond his gaze was… a red flower on top of the bedside drawer. It was a single rose that the lord would sometimes stare at, like he was yearning for something.
He stared at it for a short while, as if time stood still, but eventually, he timidly placed his other hand inside the neck of his open shirt. He searched around for something, and then.
At that moment, his voice became sweeter. He continued to move as if he were clinging on to something. He resumed the movement of his hand that held his member, letting out short breaths while immersed in the act.
He seemed to feel more pleasure than he did earlier, and when I thought that he would just slowly go his way through the climax.
His body suddenly jolted widely.
He curled his toes and arched his back, twitching. He must’ve reached his climax, though he had continued in that state for a few seconds, his neck suddenly lost strength and I could see from here his eyes that were out of focus.
The deep scarlet, usually cold and corrupted, was now wavering as though he were melting… and dropped a single tear.
I suddenly took my distance from the door. I looked around, acting suspiciously, but fortunately, there were no signs of anyone. Having forgotten my original purpose, I left as quickly as I could to escape from the cut-out room of perversion. I ran down the hallway aimlessly and tumbled into an empty room that I happened to caught sight of.
Thump. Thump. Thump. My heart was pounding loud. I didn’t run a great distance, and yet I was losing my breath.
—What… just what the hell is this?
I embraced my stirred body and crouched down on the spot. I buried my head between my knees, and the figure of the lord from earlier resurfaced in my darkened vision. His damp, sweaty pale skin, both his hands tormenting himself as if to punish, and his hot breaths that came with it, and… the tears he showed at the end, as if he were pleading for forgiveness.
He was supposed to be an inhumane monster, yet he was so beautiful that it sent chills down my spine.
‘No, that’s all just your imagination, you’re wrong!’ I told myself over and over again, yet I couldn’t ignore the voice that fiercely insisted inside my heart.
—I want him.
I slammed my fist against the wall. I hit it as hard as I could and felt the stinging pain, but I didn’t feel like calming down at all.
…I wonder if I had gone mad for continuing to serve evil all these years.
My real master and the great cause that I swore to my heart. Those two things made me blame myself for being so awfully tainted, and I had no choice but to sit down in a daze for a while.
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